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The Worst Room is a blog exploring the seedy and insanitary world of New York City's "affordable housing." The home featured above, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is yours for $1200 a month.
Update: And here's WTF Is a Cottage?, another new "bad apartments" blog focused on San Francisco. Less cramped squalor, but an extra helping of insanity.
Austin Hay began to build himself a tiny house when he was 17 and planning to move out his parents' place. He's planning to take it to college and park it in someone's back yard or side yard. It's a snug little ship-shape thing, too:
Now, Hay is done with his house, and it looks beautiful and well-made and very, very tiny. He’s been living in the house instead of in his childhood bedroom, and he has it registered as a trailer, so he can drive it to college if he has somewhere to park it. This video combines two tours — an early one before the project was done, and a recent open house showing the finished home and its features.
In 2005, my husband I bought a house in Birmingham, Alabama. I was working for mental_floss and we thought we'd live there for a few years. But, in 2006, my husband got an amazing job opportunity in Minneapolis. So we moved and we sold our house. After a few months in the Twin Cities, we bought another one. In order for me to buy the house I now live in, somebody else had to move. When I left my house in Birmingham, I opened a spot in my neighborhood there that was filled by somebody else.
This is one of those things that seems so basic and "duh" that it's easy to overlook. It's easy to think that it isn't important. But sociologists, and economists, care a lot about these patterns—called vacancy chains. That's because vacancy chains end up describing very similar situations that occur in all sorts of social systems across many, many species.
When a resource is exchanged in a sequence from one individual to another, and every individual in the sequence benefits from the exchange, that's a vacancy chain. You see these patterns in human home sales—I, the people I bought my house from, and the people who bought my old house all ended up with a home that better met our needs. And you see the same thing when hermit crabs trade out their old shells for new ones.
Ivan Chase, emeritus professor at Stony Brook University, studies vacancy chains in hermit crabs and people. He's written about his work for the June issue of Scientific American, and he recently spoke with me about how vacancy chains work and what we can learn about human social systems from watching animals like crabs.
NPR's Planet Money profiles Willow Tufano, a 14-year-old Florida girl who saved thousands of dollars by harvesting furniture from foreclosed houses and selling it on eBay. She's just bought half interest in a house that went for $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. Her mom owns the other half, and the house went for $12,000. They rent it out for $700 a month now. Chana Joffe-Walt writes,
One day, Willow's mom, Shannon, saw a two-bedroom, concrete-block home on auction for $12,000 — down from $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. Shannon was telling her husband about the house, when Willow piped up.
"I was like, 'What if I bought a house? That would be crazy,' " Willow says...
As I was working on this story, I kept thinking that when a 14-year-old kid can buy a house, the market must have hit bottom. I kept saying this to Willow, and she'd sort of vaguely nod.
But it's hard for Willow to see herself as symbolic of anything. To a 14-year-old kid in Florida, the housing collapse is basically the only world she's known. It's the landscape. It's a Craigslist hobby.
(Image: Chana Joffe-Walt)
In this case, what she wrote is not technically incorrect, but its very misleading. The lowest this rate has been over the past few decades is 8.5%. So while 11% sounds shocking, it is only somewhat elevated after the worst housing crash in the US since the Great Depression.Welcome to America after the housing bubble, where, according to the census, 11 percent of homes are vacant:
The typical data point used to describe vacant homes is the Home Ownership Vacancy Rate. In the US, that number is 2.7% for owner occupied houses and 9% for rental properties, apartments, etc.
The sensationalistic number referenced in the CNBC story (repeated by Consumerist) is not commonly used -- indeed, its towards the end of the Census Bureau release that reports such things.
What it references is the total number of structures that are unoccupied -- this includes a whole laundry list of empty properties -- abandoned old farm houses, (Not sure if vacation properties/second homes are included -- I need to check that). No one usually pays much attention to this number, as it provides very little useful insight.
Now to vacancies. There were 18.4 million vacant homes in the U.S. in Q4 '10 (11 percent of all housing units vacant all year round), which is actually an improvement of 427,000 from a year ago, but not for the reasons you'd think.Nearly 11 Percent of US Houses Empty (via Consumerist)
The number of vacant homes for rent fell by 493 thousand, as rental demand rose. 471,000 homes are listed as "Held off Market" about half for temporary use, but the other half are likely foreclosures. And no, the shadow inventory isn't just 200,000, it's far higher than that.
What that means for firefighters is the amount of time they can safely be inside a house on fire has dropped from about 17 minutes to three minutes or less.New homes burn faster (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
That's when flashover happens -- the moment when a room or building is fully engulfed in flames...
[Ottawa Fire spokesman Marc Messier] said unlike 30 years ago, when homes, furniture and appliances were made of solid wood and steel, modern day versions are made with glue, plastics and synthetic materials.
Such synthetics not only burn faster but produce carcinogenic emissions as they burn.
"One of the biggest examples is floor joists," said Messier, who himself dabbles in home renovations.
"They used to be 2x8s and 2x10s, and now we're looking at composite materials which for the most part are made of wood particles, mixed in with glue. They're cheaper, which is probably why the industry is using these products."
Please remove my copyrighted images from your blog, thanks. If they are not removed asap I will invoice $100 per image per month you use my material:
Stuart Isett |
Seattle, USA |
Shown here: "Near the Arsenal football club, this utilitarian looking squat box was originally designed for blue collar workers, now it probably contains a lawyer."
Its October 2010 and Chinese property booms while most of the Western world's houses have shrunk to more realistic levels. In the US, homes have ceased to be ATMs to buy oriental barbecues, but in Britain, a crowded island with a cultural attachment to carving out a personal defensible space Englishmen's homes are still castles, with prices to match.depressing million dollar london property (via Cribcandy)
As US housing prices adjusted, UK ones, faltered then regained their losses smack in the middle of the recession. This time things look different, with last month seeing the largest dip in housing prices in history. Perhaps prices in Britain will go up forever, or perhaps Britain will be like Japan, another crowded island which had the same phenomenon and where eventual capitulation resulted in a crash where property is worth less than a decade ago?
One way to judge judge this is to look at what a million dollars gets you in London and its hinterland - a place where an apartment recently sold for a quarter of a billion dollars during the biggest downturn since the Great Depression. Click through each item to read the justification for inclusion.
NPR's Planet Money bought a toxic asset for $1000 and named it "Toxie" and followed it closely, as a way of unravelling the recent econopocalypse. Now, less than a year later, Toxie is dead, killed by loan modifications. Though once a mighty producer, Toxie delivered less than 50% of her face-value in her short life on the NPR balance sheet.
Over at True/Slant, Megan Cottrell has been covering the imminent destruction of an infamous group of public housing sites in Chicago. Today, she blogs this fascinating stop-motion video of its demise, recorded by Ryan Flynn over a period of months: "Watch Cabrini-Green disappear right before your eyes."
Related items by Cottrell at True/Slant: "Dueling Memories: Inside Cabrini-Green with Doreen Ambrose," and "The Sun Sets on 660 West Division." (Thanks, Coates Bateman. Image below: Melissa Hayes, courtesy True Slant)